4:1the adversaries. Though these people came with apparently good intentions, they are referred to as “adversaries,” since they later tried to undermine the work of restoration. There was some political motivation in this conflict, because only returnees had authorization from Cyrus to undertake construction (1:2–4). But ultimately the trouble was religious. The “adversaries” were people from various places who had been transplanted into Samaria, the area north of Judah, after the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 b.c. (4:9–10 note). They worshiped many gods and incorporated worship of the Lord into their polytheism (2 Kin. 17:24–41). The animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans who descended from these “adversaries” forms part of the background of the New Testament (cf. John 4:1–42).
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